Oct 6 2010

Increasing Your Earnings While on the Road

Ever since the current recession has taken hold, the gigs that we’ve once taken for granted are no longer there. Many of us are going out on the road for the same amount of time and for less money. In my situation, this is mainly due to less routing engagements – Not a good thing. The routing engagements are where most touring bands pay for their traveling expenses. So how do we recoup our lost income and actually come home with more money?

Offer More Services to Your Customer
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that businesses need to understand and meet the needs of their customer in order to survive. As your customer changes, your business needs to be there with the services your customers need, when they need them. There are more and more baby boomers out there everyday, reacquainting themselves with the instrument that they once played back in the day, looking for a pro like yourself to reignite their passion for music.

Our primary service, as guitarists, when on the road is providing a live musical performance. As we all know, many of our customers are also aspiring musicians themselves checking us out in hopes of learning something and getting inspired.

For years, I would have people come up to our band members at a performance and ask “Hey, can I get a lesson the next time you are passing through town?” There are a lot of semi-pro and amateur guitarists out there that would love to pick your brain when you are passing through their city or town either through a guitar class or a private guitar lesson provided by you.

With a little bit of preparation and networking, you can incorporate a profitable, traveling guitar education program into your touring schedule, right in the city or town (or en route to the city or town) where the gig is happening.

Here’s How I Did It
Contact the venues on the upcoming tour, along with any music societies, libraries, churches, music stores or music schools along the tour path and pitch your “lessons on wheels” program to them. You can also collect contact information from the people who have expressed an interest in a learning opportunity with you and then pass that information on to the hosting venue close to where they live.

Guitar Lessons on the Road

Guitar Lessons on the Road

All you need is a quiet, small to medium-sized room with chairs and music stands. Ask the participating venues to collect the tuition and provide you with your payment on the day of the class. Most venues or organizations can provide these simple requests and materials without a problem.

Your program will add value and prestige to the host venue and the community. I usually give 20% of my gross earnings to the hosting venue so they make something, the community gets the benefit of your program and you have just increased your tour take-home pay for that tour.

Sep 8 2010

Teaching Your Guitar Students While on the Road

As working guitarists, we all love going on the road and playing gigs. It’s a rich part of the experience of being a professional musician and we all have such great stories to tell when we return home, right? Like many of you, when I’m not on the road, I maintain a modest roster of guitar students and give weekly private guitar lessons and teach a few guitar classes.

Whenever I was about to go on the road, I would have to either cancel my guitar students or reschedule them prior to my departure. Neither of these options were ideal for myself or for my guitar students – I would lose that income and my students would lose momentum and in some cases drop from my guitar teaching roster. And if you are like the many guitar teachers who rent guitar teaching space, going on the road can mean the end of your profitable guitar teaching income.

I solved this problem with Skype, a HD webcam and a laptop. Since most hotels, motels and lodges have free WiFi, getting connected to the internet has not been an issue for me while on tour. You can also get a USB modem, if you have the space in the tour bus to do the lessons while traveling. I’ve used my USB modem quite a bit when I’m out of the country or whenever the hotel doesn’t have an internet connection available. Here’s what you will need:

Gear Required

  1. Laptop Computer
  2. HD Webcam
  3. USB Modem (optional)
  4. Skype Account
  5. Skype Documentation

Here’s how I did it:

Get a good HD webcam
You don’t want to skimp on this. Remember that your guitar students are used to face-to-face interaction  with you so the closer you can get to that experience the better. I use this HD video webcam and it works great for delivering guitar lessons. You can see a great review on HD webcams here.

Create a Skype account
If you don’t have a Skype account already, sign up for a free Skype account here. Your students will also need a free Skype account in order to participate in the lessons.

Download and install Skype software
Download the free Skype software here.

Launch Skype from your laptop and sign in
Use the Skype username and password that you created when you signed up.

Fill in your profile and add a picture of yourself
From here, you can upload your profile picture and add some other information about yourself.

Add your guitar students to your Skype contact list
Click on  “Contacts”, located in the Skype application menu bar. From here, you can add your guitar students.

Video call your guitar student and give the lesson
Click on “Contacts”, located in the Skype menu bar. From there, locate your guitar student and double-click their name. Then, click on the video icon.

That’s all there is to it. Now when you are on the road, you aren’t losing your teaching income. In fact, you can also extend your teaching reach by offering your guitar lessons to students located outside of a comfortable commuting range.